Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sarasota, Florida, Supports a U.S. Department of Peace

(Sarasota, FL- June 1, 2009)

On a 3-2 vote, the Sarasota City Commission approved resolution 09R-2099 to support legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peace (H.R. 808) at their June 1 meeting. By passing this resolution, Sarasota (pop. 53,000) joins a long list of other cities around the country - including Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago and Los Angeles - that are supporting this visionary legislation and asking their elected representatives to make it law. Overall, cities that have endorsed the Department of Peace legislation represent over 14 million citizens!

Before the vote, local activists Augie Schmitz (co-founder of the SW Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice) and Alex Coe (from the Alliance for Peace) voiced their support for H.R. 808 and informed the Commission about other peacebuilding activities going on locally. Ms. Coe had attended the Peace Alliance conference in D.C. in March, and had returned to Sarasota determined to better understand the local nonviolence organizations and look for ways to get existing organizations working together for maximum impact. Mr. Schmitz told the Commission about an upcoming forum designed to engage the community in defining programs that will help improve the lives of citizens by reducing violence, including programs to provide conflict resolution skills for children.

Mayor Richard Clapp spoke of the resolution as a statement of intent to Sarasota citizens and to the Congressional delegation that the City of Sarasota values efforts to reduce violence and make the community a model of peaceful existence. Commissioner Suzanne Atwell also spoke in favor of the resolution, adding that it was important for Sarasota to get behind the movement and recognize the symbolism of this type of legislation. Commissioner Fredd Atkins also supported the resolution. (You can send a note to these Commissioners thanking them for supporting the legislation by clicking on their names above.)

The two dissenting votes came from Commissioners Kirschner and Turner, largely along the lines of not wanting to tell Washington what to do. However, both Commissioners spoke in support of the local efforts to promote peace and nonviolence.

For a replay of the recorded Commission meeting, click on this link - http://sarasota.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=2502. To review just the part of the meeting that deals with the Department fo Peace resolution, fast-forward to the 1:16 (1 hour, 16 minute) mark. The discussion concludes at the 1:30 mark. You can also find a copy of the resolution by searching for "09R-2099" and clicking on the backup material link.

For more on the Department of Peace legislation and the nationwide grassroots campaign, visit The Peace Alliance web site. The Peace Alliance also has tips and tools for working with your own city government on a resolution in support of H.R. 808.

Get active! Make Peace! Make History!



Visit DoPeace

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for continuing to spread the word, Geek! I hope their resolution turns into action at the local level. Prevention is a cost-saver!

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  2. Fantastic! Good news -- thanks for keeping us informed. The more support is expressed by organizations such as city councils, the more our elected leaders in Congress will begin to listen, and respond.

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